The world of employee benefits has moved far beyond health care and a retirement account. Benefits that improve people’s quality of life and security are growing in popularity, and employers that want to attract top talent should consider them.
“It’s all about understanding your employees and their needs,” says Peter Marcia, CEO of YouDecide, a voluntary benefits platform. Today’s nontraditional benefits address employees’ lifestyles and families as well as just their health.
Here are five nontraditional benefits you should consider offering.
College tuitions have skyrocketed, and new graduates are carrying a lot of loans. Student-loan debt in the U.S. totals about $1.4 trillion, topping even credit card debt. For companies with large populations of young employees or new graduates, a tuition-assistance or -refinancing program is an attractive benefit, Marcia says. This employee benefit has been growing in popularity, and can be offered in different ways, such as by direct loan payments, a one-time tuition reimbursement or refinancing.
For many people, pets are part of the family. More than 40 percent of households have dogs, while about a third have cats; insurance that helps people manage veterinary bills can build goodwill among employees and keep pets healthy. While this can be seen as a valuable benefit, keep in mind that a segment of your employee population won’t find it useful at all: A survey can help you determine whether it’s appropriate for your workforce.
Marcia says many of his clients are looking at “indemnity” benefits that help mitigate losses employees might suffer, such as identity-theft protection. These types of benefits are convenient for employers because they don’t require an open enrollment period, and are seen as valuable by employees because they’re often offered at a discounted rate. High-profile data-security breaches and other hacking incidents have made it clear that everyone is vulnerable to identity theft; these kinds of policies can help protect people and their assets in the event of a breach.
Discounts on professional services are increasingly popular, and Marcia says he’s seen dozens of options for financial “health and wellness” options. Employers are increasingly aware of the stress that financial or legal troubles can put on employees, and so access to services for legal assistance and financial advisers are becoming more popular. Options can include discounts on financial counseling or planning, estate planning or adoption advice.
Often called “cancer insurance” even though it covers other issues as well, critical illness insurance can be attractive for older employees who know they’re at risk for certain ailments, such as heart attack or stroke. These policies pay out a lump sum in the event the employee experiences the disease or another significant health issue. Marcia says other disease or disability insurances, such as an accident plan or short- or long-term disability, can also be attractive to employees, especially when such plans fill gaps in their core health insurance coverage. “Try to match the benefits to their needs,” he says.
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